The Importance of the 1970s

By James Kwak

It isn’t often that I read two books in a row that both cite Alexis de Tocqueville, probably my favorite Social Studies 10 author (although he was far from my favorite at the time). In Third World America, Arianna Huffington cited Tocqueville’s observation that democracy should promote the interests of “the greatest possible number”; as I pointed out, this is clearly no longer true in America (if it ever was). In Winner-Take-All Politics,* Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson explain why.

In 13 Bankers, Simon and I argue that the key forces behind the transformation of the financial sector and the resulting financial crisis were political, not simply economic. To this argument, at least two good questions spring to mind: Why finance? And why then? Hacker and Pierson have good answers to both of these questions. Their answer to the latter question is better than (though not inconsistent with) the answer we gave in our book.

To the former question, their argument is simple: business interests in all sectors organized a takeover of political power that pushed organized labor and other groups protecting middle-class interests to the sidelines and made possible decades of policies that have enriched the super-rich at the expense of everyone else, including the merely affluent. Finance was simply the biggest and most profitable of these sectors–and, we would emphasize, the one best able to hold the government hostage in a financial and economic crisis.

The answer to the second question is a bit more involved but particularly important. Many people, including Simon and me, have observed that American politics and the American economy reached some kind of turning point around 1980, which conveniently marks the election of Ronald Reagan. (We also pointed to other factors such as the deregulation of stock brokerage commissions in 1975 and the high inflation of the 1970s.) Other analysts have put the turning point back in 1968, when Richard Nixon became President on the back of a wave of white, middle-class resentment against the 1960s. Hacker and Pierson, however, point the finger at the 1970s. As they describe in Chapter 4, the Nixon presidency saw the high-water market of the regulatory state; the demise of traditional liberalism occurred during the Carter administration, despite Democratic control of Washington, when highly organized business interests were able to torpedo the Democratic agenda and begin the era of cutting taxes for the rich that apparently has not yet ended today.

Why then? Not, as popular commentary would have it, because public opinion shifted. Hacker and Pierson cite studies showing that public opinion on issues such as inequality has not shifted over the past thirty years; most people still think society is too unequal and that taxes should be used to reduce inequality. What has shifted is that Congressmen are now much more receptive to the opinions of the rich, and there is actually a negative correlation between their positions and the preferences of their poor constituents (p. 111). Citing Martin Gilens, they write, “When well-off people strongly supported a policy change, it had almost three times the chance of becoming law as when they strongly opposed it. When median-income people strongly supported a policy change, it had hardly any greater chance of becoming law than when they strongly opposed it” (p. 112). In other words, it isn’t public opinion, or the median voter, that matters; it’s what the rich want.

That shift occurred in the 1970s because businesses and the super-rich began a process of political organization in the early 1970s that enabled them to pool their wealth and contacts to achieve dominant political influence (described in Chapter 5). To take one of the many statistics they provide, the number of companies with registered lobbyists in Washington grew from 175 in 1971 to nearly 2,500 in 1982 (p. 118). Money pouring into lobbying firms, political campaigns, and ideological think tanks created the organizational muscle that gave the Republicans a formidable institutional advantage by the 1980s. The Democrats have only reduced that advantage in the past two decades by becoming more like Republicans–more business-friendly, more anti-tax, and more dependent on money from the super-rich. And that dependency has severely limited both their ability and their desire to fight back on behalf of the middle class (let alone the poor), which has few defenders in Washington.

At a high level, the lesson of Winner-Take-All Politics is similar to that of 13 Bankers: when looking at economic phenomena, be they the financial crisis or the vast increase in inequality of the past thirty years, it’s politics that matters, not just abstract economic forces. One of the singular victories of the rich has been convincing the rest of us that their disproportionate success has been due to abstract economic forces beyond anyone’s control (technology, globalization, etc.), not old-fashioned power politics. Hopefully the financial crisis and the recession that has ended only on paper (if that) will provide the opportunity to teach people that there is no such thing as abstract economic forces; instead, there are different groups using the political system to fight for larger shares of society’s wealth. And one group has been winning for over thirty years.

* I got a free advance copy. The book goes on sale tomorrow.

155 thoughts on “The Importance of the 1970s

  1. Yes, economics has always been religion. Just substitute trickle down for the hereafter and you understand why the rich work overtime to sustain belief in both.

  2. The significance of the 1970s is that it saw the double effect:

    1. The stagnation (from the “capitalist” point of view) of most sectors into the terminal period where profits were, according to their own textbooks, supposed to wither away.

    2. The American oil Peak portending global Peak Oil a few decades later.

    Putting these together, the criminal elites saw how if they were to be able to maintain their wealth and power at all, let alone continue to augment it, they needed a new class war strategy. Thus was born neoliberalism, globalization and financialization. The third was necessary to coordinate the looting of the planet and the liquidation of the middle class at home in the West. That’s one of reasons the finance sector bloated the way it has. (The other is the classical reason, that as wealth concentrates among the parasitic unproductive rich, they’re unable to constructively invest it. Their only outlet is to speculate and blow bubbles.)

    A seminal document for this is Lewis Powell’s 1971 startegy memo for redoubled class war.

    The whole thing is written in classical totalitarian code, communicating the battle plan through the device of accusing a fictional enemy.

  3. For thirty years, in my NY Observer col and in an unpublished book (“The Overclass,” 1993) paid for but never published by Random House, I have argued that the ’70s will come to be regarded as the crucial decade in postwar America. During that time, we suffered three closely-packed shocks to our psychological and material suprematism that I doubt any society could absorb without trauma. The three legs of the stool on which our national self-esteem was perched were, if you will, kicked out from under us. The first was military (Viet Nam), the second economic (OPEC-induced stagflation pied-piped by Walter Wriston) and the third moral (Watergate).

  4. Of course it is what the rich want that becomes law. our political system is set up on a pattern of indirect bribery. Unlike many countries, we do not directly give bribe payments for political favors. Instead, we use an intermediary system – pay money to a campaign fund which puts the politician back in office which keeps the perqs flowing. And we use the revolving-door promise of even greater perqs as a “lobbyist” should the campaign money fail.
    Indirect, but clearly bribery.

  5. I made a pretty big mistake. I apologize, I should have said Congressman Boehner. I don’t know if this will work, but I hope I can embed the video of the “esteemed” Congressman Boehner of Ohio here:

  6. The article sums up the situation fairly well…

    What we’ve seen (and always have seen to some extent) arises out of an imbalance in ‘influence capability’ within our political decision system.

    This is a recurrent problem in scaled social organisms… and all political systems.

    Addressing this requires first a recognition of the fundamental role of individual and collective decisions in the nature of a society. Sorry to be repetitive but this recognition leads to valuable approaches to solution and is not simply a ‘fun’ idea…

    Civilizations are the product of ‘social energy’:

    Individual and collective decisions operating within the limits of available resources and natural law which result (quite literally) in the product you see as a civilization. A decision here is defined as an idea + an action. Decisions can be motivated by any number of factors. Technologies result from previous decisions thus becoming available resources. And decision here is defined broadly… everything from “Let’s build a pyramid for the pharaoh!” to “I’ve got a headache I think I’ll lie down.”

    However in any group larger than a hypothetical ‘natural human community size’ (Dunbar’s Number) the role of biological altruism’s real (though fuzzy) boundaries will bias decision (even when well-intended) in favor of those sub-groups in decision making positions.

    Biological altruism DOES NOT scale directly in the same way that self-interest does… and its this drive that determines ‘in’ from ‘out’ and the difference between ally and prey.

    Further, the nature of networks will tend to reenforce already concentrated ‘nodes of power’ over time.

    Hence all scaled social organisms have a recurrent problem with oligarchy over time. Representative systems are composed of mechanisms to interrupt and/or mix these network in ways to ensure a broader balance of interests.

    However our systems have not kept up with the forces of concentrated ‘influence capability’…

    I’m convinced that the Commons-dedicated Account** is a fundamental mechanism for addressing this imbalance in more ways than simply its facilitation of networked citizen lobbying. I believe its a pragmatic and fruitful ‘financial innovation’ of much more value than any Synthetic CDO or Naked CDS…

    **A Self-supporting , Commons-owned neutral platform for both political and charitable monetary contribution… which for fundamental reasons of scale must allow a viable micro-transaction (think x-box points for action in the Commons). The resultant network catalyzes additional functionality for co-ordination of other ‘social energy’ utilization. (If desired, It’s also the most neutral and ultimately politically viable method for the public finance of elections.)

    Forgive the bluntness… but I’d appreciate a chance for serious consideration of this. Perhaps the ATM doesn’t have to be the only useful innovation to have hit the field in the last 50 years.

    Empowering the Commons: The Dedicated Account (Part I)

    On Creating Communities

    Personal Democracy: Disruption as an Enlightenment Essential

    Decision Technologies: Currencies and the Social Contract

    P.S. Once you begin to examine the role of decision in a scaled social body… and its difficult relationship to the roots of currencies and credit… it should be clear why ‘wealth’ concentration alone… becomes a destroyer of civilizations.

  7. The important question is: how do we crank back the income disparity? Tax policy is one alternative. Jawboning is another. Stockholder action might work at the margins. As might, for some, opting out of the system. Or dismantling the system entirely (to be replaced by what?). Not very attractive, given what passes for politics these days. Repeatedly bailing out the rich has put us in a real jam.

  8. Incidentally, how much money did you and your brother-in-law, Simon Johnson (the MIT and former IMF director) earn from “13 Bankers” so far? Less than$200k individually, more than $250k as a tax-deductible couple but less than what Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, and Wall Street made last year.

    “In this “swingiest of swing states,” as one Ohioan described the Buckeye State to me recently, no political party has a lock on voters’ affections. Politicians have to earn it, election by election. And right now, the advantage that Democrats won in 2008 with Barack Obama’s victory and the pickup of U.S. and state House seats is seriously threatened.

    If current polls are correct and the election were held tomorrow, it’s a good bet the GOP would sweep the board in Ohio, taking back the governorship, at least a couple of U.S. House seats, the state House and hold onto the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican George Voinovich.

    Voters in Ohio, either already unemployed or concerned about losing their jobs soon, are angry — and in a mood to take it out on Democrats.

    This manufacturing and heavily union state has lost jobs at a steady clip, and the lousy local economy has become the focus of this election.

    The overall unemployment rate in Ohio was 10.3 percent in July, above the national average. But the economy differs significantly depending on where you are in the state. More than half of Ohio’s 88 counties had an unemployment rate above 11 percent and a dozen of them were over 13 percent, including Clinton County in southwestern Ohio, which had a July jobless rate of 16.7 percent. Highland and Meigs counties, close to the Kentucky and West Virginia borders, both had rates above 15 percent.

    President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden both made appearances in Ohio this past week and are expected to visit at least several more times before the November midterm election in an effort to shore up embattled Democrats.

    Obama, who has visited Ohio 10 times since being elected president, gave a speech at Cuyahoga Community College in a Cleveland suburb Wednesday. The president unveiled additional economic measures intended to spark the economy. He also laid into Republicans, specifically House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio, who wants to be the next speaker of the House, for having no new policies or ideas and simply pushing tax cuts for the rich.

    But some in the invited audience, handpicked by Democratic state officials, were unconvinced. Jackie Capasso, 50, works in the accounting department of a manufacturing facility outside Cleveland that remains open but has downsized significantly and went through a closure scare. Capasso said she has never voted for a Republican for president and normally votes for Democratic candidates. But not this year.

    Capasso said she is expecting to vote for former Republican congressman John Kasich for governor over Democratic incumbent Ted Strickland. “We’ve lost way too many jobs, and whether it’s right or wrong he’s going to take the fall for it,” Capasso said of Strickland.

    Obama may be planning to spend so much time in Ohio this election season not only to assist fellow Democrats but also to help his own sagging approval ratings. A recent Ohio poll conducted by Public Policy Polling revealed a startlingly negative view of the Obama presidency. In answer to the question “Who would you rather have as president: George W. Bush or Barack Obama?,” 50 percent said Bush as opposed to 42 percent for Obama. Two groups that preferred Obama were minority voters and those under the age of 30, constituencies it will be critical for the Democrats and Obama to mobilize in this election and in 2012, if they are to carry Ohio.

    [Vice-President] Joe Biden, who is more popular with union voters and Reagan Democrats than Obama, appeared at a Labor Day parade in downtown Toledo alongside Strickland. The vice president, who sprinted from one side of the street to the other shaking hands, posing for pictures and kissing babies throughout the mile-long route, received an enthusiastic welcome from the crowd. But afterward, talking to some of the same union members who had marched in the parade, it was clear that Strickland and the rest of the Democratic ticket did not have their wholehearted support….

    ….In fact, if history is any guide, it’s quite likely that this will be the case: In the 51 presidential elections since 1804, Ohio has voted for the winner 43 times and the state has been right in every election since 1964. No Republican has ever won the presidency without Ohio, and only two Democrats have done so since 1900, Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944 and John F. Kennedy in 1960.”

  9. I don’t mean to over-comment, but some things I just feel an irrepressible need to express:
    It is also interesting to note that Republican Congressman John Boehner has the option to receive (as all Congressman do) federal health care benefits (insurance). For an explanation of the health care benefits all Republican Congressman have the option to take (and a large majority % of Republican Congressman do take it) see here:

    I would be willing to wager an awfully large sum of money that Republican Congressman John Boehner does in fact take advantage of those federally funded health benefits (although I am not sure). Which is an interesting fact considering that Boehner seems to be so proud of his cigarette smoking. I guess it’s very fair in his mind if we pay taxes which could fund his potential/possible lung or throat cancer, while other hard working Americans go without???

    Republican Boehner seems to feel it is “his right” to smoke, and taxpayers “right” to pay for his potential/possible cancer.

  10. James,
    I don’t share your apparent optimism regarding us out here in the great unwashed coming to any new revelations about how the use of power politics in the last few decades contibuted to this latest recession. I think many of us are still not paying sufficient attention as evidenced by the fact the so few people read a newspaper, and many others have been captured by the right-wing media. The fact that the Republicans can get away with so many obvious lies is strong evidence of this. I sit in an office full of engineers, highly educated people, who are birthers, deathers, global warming, and even evolution deniers. Maybe spending the last 14 years in Kansas, listening to the rantings of Limbaugh followers, has screwed up my outlook on things, but I think we are headed over a cliff sometime soon.

  11. My typing is impaired due to recent injury (temporary). Suffice to say it seems to xplain much of my congressperson’s (Candace Miller R-MI) support of Bush tax cuts & other pro-rich policies in spite of the dist. being mostly lower middle class & blue collar.
    Home of the famous “Reagan Dems” in the 80s.

  12. Do you include the financing of the Democrats by global socialist George Soros in your indictment of “the rich?” Or is your essay strictly limited to conservative Republican “rich?” Either way, our political class has betrayed the trust of the American voter for decades. Both sides are as guilty as the other. Neither can claim any moral high ground. Both pushed the lax lending standards and hinted at federal backing of questionable loans that led to the financial collapse. Both did nothing to prevent it or repair the damage done. The “13 Bankers” have only enriched themselves at our expense. Some change. You might call it “chump change.”

  13. You cannot overlook how “religion” was used and abused in the same time frame in the USA. Muslims are coming too late in the game to rise to $$$ power via the same route and using the same tactics (anti-semite-ism et al) – they’re making themselves both a target and a pawn and really they are clueless how bad their timing is to attempt that schtick now…

    It is mental laziness to hand over “thinking” to a higher authority to LIE TO YOU about the imperfection of “life” so that you can “dream” your way to progress and perfection. Why people elect the best liar to lead them is not SANE, is it?

    It is also mental laziness, of the worst kind, to stubbornly cling to a “business model” that depends on inflicting a maximum amount of damage on human beings (and all “life forms”) and the planet which was constructed over billions of years to support LIFE. Maybe atoms don’t depend on a coordinating intelligence to do their thing,

    but it certainly DID take a “PERSON” type of coordinating intelligence to come up with constructing a flower out of all that atomic spinning – just because they could do it – just like us, right? We manufacture POVERTY because we can do it.

    Re-calculate RISK factors. Plenty of data to work with – 3 decades worth…right?

    Instead of it being a “sign” that people are “stupid” because they are not reading propaganda, isn’t it a “sign” of the exact opposite? The problem RIGHT NOW is the conspiracy schtick psyche ops tactic – it appeals to “detail oriented” thinkers (engineers, IT, etc.) who have a hard time seeing the forest for the trees as it is….and man-oh-man has that forest of details become thick with shrubs and other parasitical vines.

    Opening ceremony at the Constitutional Convention should definitely be a symbolic burning of the Patriot Act.

    And you all need to read that Mach-extreme political tome that not only drips hatred with every word, but also works as a checklist for “fans” of sadistic overlords doing the bidding of the Supreme Money God.

    Philosophical inconsistency about reality -no “person” created a flower from atoms, but only a PERSON can create “hell” with $$$.

  14. i just retired from a multinational corporation and i remember how the arrival of the political action commmittee or PAC introduced politics into the workplace

  15. You are correct. Both sides are guilty, and the rest of us are responsible for tolerating it. Contrary to what RJ seems to think, I am not a partisan hack, although my auto shop teacher used to like to call us hacks back in high school. I still think that the Republicans are the leaders of the power politics that James is writing about. The Democrats have been more like spineless followers, as usual.
    Money in politics is a cancer, whether it comes from Soros, or Koch Industries, but I think the effectiveness of the right-wing effort completely dwarfs that of the left.

  16. How can you possibly leave out the Iranian hostage situation, compounded by the horrifying “rescue” attempt? Iran’s Revolutionary Guards elected Ronald Reagan President of US.

  17. I think there are some other factors.

    There has been very little progress in power and propulsion technologies since about 1970. This contrasts with the preceding two centuries, between the invention of the separate condenser steam engine in the 1770’s and the 1970’s. The 1960’s saw a range of new power technologies, both prototypes and some commercial systems, including nuclear reactors, rocket engines for the Apollo rocket, prototype small nuclear engines for aircraft and spaceships, and so forth. But the last 30 to 40 years has seen minimal progress: somewhat better batteries, somewhat better solar cell technology, but not much.

    Much of the dramatic rise in the standard of living between the 1770’s and the 1970s was driven by these technological advances. It is true that there are important political and economic factors, but the advances in power technology are a necessary condition for the progress in living standards.

    There is a lot of rhetoric about computer technology supposedly increasing productivity. I think this is rather questionable. Better engines and power systems increase material productivity in a very direct, clearly measurable way: more goods and services cheaply. Blackberries, PCs, and other blinking gadgets have some real benefits, but they cannot solve many every day problems.

    Yes, there has been an increase in inequality, but genuine growth has also been anemic. Of course, we have wars like Iraq and Afghanistan, and proposed wars like Iran and Venezuela that are ostensibly justified by the need for energy. Such wars don’t address the underlying need for more power or to reduce power usage in some way; we have spent over $1 trillion to purchase the same oil from Iraq that we could have purchased from Iraq under Saddam Hussein without spending $1 trillion.

    Unfortunately, business, conservative, and “libertarian” elites, and indeed “liberal” elites, believe they know how to address this problem and are doing something effective, although the actual results are dismal and have been for over 30 years.

    Conservative, business, and libertarian sources believe or claim to believe that the “private sector” has the expertise and know-how to conduct research and development of better power and propulsion systems. All that is needed is to get the government out of the way. In fact, the modern “private sector” is very dependent on large government programs for basic research and development in many, many areas, especially since corporate research labs were largely eliminated in the 1990s. Those government R&D programs, such as nuclear fusion, synthetic fuels, etc. have proven quite ineffective since the 1970s — specifically in power and propulsion technologies.

    The modern “private sector” has considerable experience commercializing a proven technology, once a working prototype or proof of concept exists. This is what high tech companies like Microsoft, Google, or Apple mostly do. They don’t have much expertise in researching and developing the original technology, getting to the stage of the working prototype or proof of concept. General and business news coverage as well as opinion pieces routinely confuse the two stages of technology research and development, so most people, investors, business leaders, policy makers, and others are blissfully unaware of the actual situation. Liberals and progressives as well are often unwilling to criticize the rather poor results of government sponsored R&D programs, which is the other side of the coin. The reality is a public-private partnership that is not working very well (not unlike the giant banks).



  18. “But the last 30 to 40 years has seen minimal progress: somewhat better batteries, somewhat better solar cell technology, but not much.”

    There was no “incentive” to improve and progress since the grandfathered industries were subsidized to keep providing “cheap” oil/coal, when if fact, it was NEVER “cheap”.

  19. Another likely hypothesis for the changes in the receptivity of our representatives to the views of the rich is put foth by the cognitive scientist George Lakoff in his recent book “The Political Mind.” In it Mr. Lakoff describes how the Right is able to create the unconcious belief system consistent with business/wealth friendly values simply by incessantly ‘framing’ all issues as if government is bad -it undermines individual responsibility, thereby compromising individual morality. By 1980, after major disruptions to American society and four years of the Carter Administration, Americans belived that government was the problem.

  20. And just for the record from the “silent masses” who are silent because of broken jaws, chipped teeth, and swollen lips from all the brutal CENSORSHIP of the past decade

    EVERYONE says that “it” all started with the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

    People sure have some very different IDEAS about “what you can do for your country” since then.

  21. James, I would say what has transpired since WWII has been the rich protecting themselves by giving up a little power and now they are taking it back.
    I think the rich feared the baby boomers so much as a voting block that was demanding real fundamental change (the 1960s) that they built the middle class as a way to placate their votes. By giving them middle class lifestyles, they became complacent in their attitudes and stopped demanding such fundamental change. So now that those baby boomers aren’t the threat that they once were, and now that they have nice expensive houses, nice pensions, nice IRAs, the rich have been slowly taking back their wealth that they “loaned” to us common folk. No more health care, no more pensions, overpriced housing that is worthless, no money at the treasury to fund programs to straighten the mess out.

  22. Kevin Phillips either in his “The Emerging Republican Majority” or in other writings in the late ’60s called for business interests to come to Washington and organize lobbying, etc. to counteract “liberal” influences.

  23. “The fact that the Republicans can get away with so many obvious lies …”

    Sorry, my comments here are tangential to the main point of this blog post, but were triggered by Rich S.’s comment.

    Am I the only one who finds it strange that:

    1. The Democrats typically lie through distortion, misrepresentation and half-truths, the falseness of which are often difficult to perceive without careful investigations of factual detail.

    2. The Republicans are given to outright fabrications, often so far from reality as to be obviously untrue.

    3. Yet, the Republicans, it seems are far more effective at moving public opinion than the Democrats.

    If you want to take this out of the partisan politics context, I think you can replace Democrats by the left and Republicans by the right in all of the above and the observations retain much of their validity.

  24. Having lived through the 50’s and beyond, I would say this chronology is wrong. The baby boom generation didn’t start to demand real fundamental change (if they ever really did) until the very end of the 60’s. The establishment of a solid middle class in the United States was already well underway by the early 1950’s and was consolidated before the baby boomers started reaching adolesence and making political noises.

    I’m more inclined to believe that the rise of the US middle class represented the confluence of two things: in the 50’s there were many technologies (of propulsion and power if you wish) that were ready for widespread dissemination and commercialization at that time, and there was a wide-open market place for US industry because all potential competition had been reduced to rubble in World War II. By the time we reach the 70’s those technologies had been largely tapped out as sources of real material improvements in life and have yet to really be replaced by anything. (I agree that the computer “revolution,” influential though it is in my personal life, is of only modest value for productivity in general.) And in any case, by the 70’s Europe and Japan were in a position to compete with us on all fronts, and since then the sphere of competition has grown even wider.

  25. Since you’re the one who brought up partisan politics with your strange attempt to distinguish between the mode of lying of the kleptocratic parties (Both mostly engage in distortion and Big Lies; are Reps actually more likely to also baldly tell lies of fact? I don’t know, but it’s a minor difference at most), I’ll play along and ask how exactly you come to equate the Democratic party (its agenda ranging from right-of-center to hard right) with “the left”?

    There is, of course, no “Left” in Amercian politics today. That’s a big reason for why things are the way they are. That’s why even a centrist like FDR is impossible – there’s no left flank to look to.

    But you sound like one of the yahoos who think the neoliberal corporatist Obama’s a “socialist”. (And the liberal teabaggers just as ignorantly think the same thing, only with approval.)

    I don’t care about the conventional spectrum myself. My spectrum runs “democratic” (that’s a small “d”) to “elitist”. Both parties are far to the elitist side, of course, as are both conservatives and liberals.

    But whatever the failings of the left-right spectrum, and whatever the historical failings of the historical Left, it certainly doesn’t deserve the flat-earth ignorance and slander of being equated with today’s liberals and Democratic party.

  26. Maybe human societies can’t maintain a solid middle class for any length of time because “elites” of whatever stripes always gain power and undermine the masses. Historically, we are talking very short time frames of relative comfort levels for a large “middle” class.

  27. The “conversation” between Maria and Ariana is a good place to start with why EVERYTHING is on the table for ANALYSIS,

    especially the mode of lying and now the frantic attempts to bring in niche marketing techniques to “social control and capture.”

    Here’s why “education” produced vast numbers of scientifically and mathematically illiterate generations – if the BASICS (not delusional theorism) of both areas of study were taught to the whole population, the planet could not possible be as trashed as it is now by grandfathered industries. Shame on what you did to China which is where you all went after your WORST abuses were no longer tolerated in USA – and I’m talking about outright 2nd amendment solutions – care to dig out The Hudson River Battle?

    So it is FAIR to note the “niche marketing” LYING.

    Just like the “trust” part of the program is over, so is the talking.

    A Constitutional Convention can be sold as “volunteerism” at this point, no? One Simple Amendment on the books…brought SANELY and CALMLY forward by what can FACTUALLY be called “anti-nihilist” in psychological and philosophical contrast

    to the detail-ism disorder passing as “academic”, what-is-torture deregulation of “finance” that has us where we are now – TRUE FINANCIAL ANARCHY.

    Grow a pair and participate in your own survival, for a change…

  28. It may be useful to look back over 150 years to the European Revolutions of 1848. Your hero, Alexis de Tocqueville remarked in his Recollections of the period that “society was cut in two: those who had nothing united in common envy, and those who had anything united in common terror.”

    There were many themes interwoven in the 1848 Revolution. Many of the changes of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries have origins in this revolutionary period; disruptive ideas gained popularity: democracy, liberalism, nationalism, and socialism.

    It seems to me that there is still more we can do to further the revolution.

  29. “At a high level, the lesson of Winner-Take-All Politics is similar to that of 13 Bankers: when looking at economic phenomena, be they the financial crisis or the vast increase in inequality of the past thirty years, it’s politics that matters, not just abstract economic forces.”

    Cue the laissez faire Objectivists streaming out of the wood work now, claiming complete deregulation and removal of government from business interests is the only solution…

  30. Politics and politicians no longer work to advance and protect the peoples best interests. The predatorclass and predatorclass oligarchs own and control the government; all the primary socalled legal structures of society, the actual infrastructure of America, and more ominously a massive monstrous warmaking, warfighting, intelligence industrial complex.

    Untangling this unholy web of predatorclass treachery, deception, and domination will not be an easy or bloodless process.

    There is no sense in voting if there are no candidates willing to advance the voters best interests. American politics devolved into Kabuki Theater.

    The predatorclass is at war with, and seeking to dominate or destroy the poor and middleclass. A few of us might be kept around for cooking, gardening, housekeeping, and other menial service related or slave labor duties, – but the rest of us are simply digits, x’s and o’s that can, and will be very easily eradicated at the touch of a button, the click of a switch, or the squeeze of a trigger.

    The dark shadow of the dragons wing is visible and recognizable. Many of us know the predatorclass constitutes constitutes and dire threat to the longterm wellbeing of the poor and middleclass globally, but particularly here in the land of Oz.

    Ten thousand thanks for people like Messrs. Johnson and Kwak, Krugman, Stiglitz, Roubini, Taleb, Tiabi, Warren, Brooks, and a boisterous chorus of others articulating realities in terms and messages the people can understand, provide critical information, and are raising alarms.

    The predatorclass is prosecuting a stealth war on the poor and middleclass, – and dominating.

    We either accept and acknowledge this terrible truth and grim reality, or we don’t. If we do, then unite. Plan, prepare, organize, stock up, get armed, and locked, cocked, and ready to rock.

    If we don’t – then we and our children will be forced like moths to the flame, like sheep to the slaughter to enslavement or eradication.

    It is time for a new paradigm and the construction of a new “more perfect union’.

    Real change will not come easily or bloodlessly. The predatorclass will not relinquish the strangle hold on the mechanisms of finance and government peacefully or legally, and we already know these fiends are capable of wanton abuses, and rank criminality – so the question every poor and middleclass American must ask is: What do we do? How do we alter or change this unjust, toxic and malevolent system and government? How do we reform a perfidious government and a financial system to work in the peoples bests interests?

    There are peaceful idea’s as Tom Crowl offers above, and again – there are others Esther Duflo, who are exploring and communicating knew idea’s and solutions that would provide for a more equitable and just government and financial system that benefits and advances the peoples best interests – and heaven hope their idea’s glean attention.

    There are other more controversial and incendiary options to effect the necessary change required for a restoration of goodgovernment and fairbusinesspractices.

    “When they come knockin on your door, – how you gonna come? – with your hands on your head, – or on the trigger of a gun” The Clash.

  31. “That shift occurred in the 1970s because businesses and the super-rich began a process of political organization in the early 1970s that enabled them to pool their wealth and contacts to achieve dominant political influence.”

    This seems to be what you’re saying is their answer to the “why then?” question, but it doesn’t really answer it. Does the book answer why the rich began their political organizing then? Does the book answer why similar didn’t necessarily happen in other developed countries? If not, then, given that politicians respond to the rich but not to the poor (which has been demonstrated in peer-reviewed studies since at least 1995), isn’t this a “no duh” kind of analysis? “Politicians respond to the the group which has the most organized power. Politicians have responded to the rich almost exclusively since the 70’s. Why then? Well, that’s when the rich got politically organized. You’re welcome.”

  32. Is that memorandum verifiable? Did he really write it?

    I’m just asking. I haven’t read the whole thing and will not until I’m convinced that is verifiable.

    After all, these are blogs, you know.

  33. “Individual and collective decisions operating within the limits of available resources and natural law which result (quite literally) in the product you see as a civilization. A decision here is defined as an idea + an action. Decisions can be motivated by any number of factors. Technologies result from previous decisions thus becoming available resources. And decision here is defined broadly… everything from “Let’s build a pyramid for the pharaoh!” to “I’ve got a headache I think I’ll lie down.”

    There used to be a section in Private Eye magazine called “Pseud’s Corner”.

    This would been a Grand Prize Winner. for those interested.

  34. USA just sold another billions of $$$ worth of death toys to Saudi Arabia.

    Do you have any sense of how lame a website and a bunch of “communications” majors talking amongst themselves (Per was right, more diversity definitely needed)

    are as “change agents” in the face of what we are JUDGING about the scope of damage done to people and the environment BY REVOLUTIONARY “FINANCIAL SERVICES”?

    What do you need in the way of puppy training, so to speak?

    Tonnage of unexploded land mines? Tonnage of seeping waste? Tonnage of BODIES? Tonnage of nuclear fall out poisoned land?

    Stop and LOOK at what has been accomplished by the PROFIT formula:

    More misery for others = more money for ME ME ME.

    There was a good rapid speed sequence of the HORROR we have lived through if you are over 50 in, I think, “The 4th Element” movie…

    and as Sting sings, “There is no political solution to our troubled evolution.”

    For all the people calculating the end of the world in 2012, being “funded” by “Investors” to paw through occult “holy” books for the exact TIME and day at this point,

    well, consider this a dry run to how tough your PERSONAL judgement day is going to be. “I saw everyone jumping off the cliff, too!” is not valid as an excuse for either keeping mum or doing it too.

    LOVE the way the Constitutional Convention is being ignored – too simple? Making everyone feeling stupid to have over complicated it…? Well what do you think COMMON SENSE is? “Complicated”?

  35. And don’t forget those durned activist judges. No, not those activist judges, the Republican appointees to the Supreme Court who time and again manage to gut what meager campaign finance laws Congress manages to pass.

  36. “In this “swingiest of swing states,” as one Ohioan described the Buckeye State to me recently, no political party has a lock on voters’ affections. Politicians have to earn it, election by election.” Sure… That is why John Boehner(Who has never met a Lobbyist he doesn’t like…) has been in office for 19 yrs. In a state that is predominantly working-class, you would think that his constituents would be smart enough to figure this guy out by now…Wake up, Ohio….

  37. It never ceases to amaze me that working class people struggling to make ends meet continue to lend their support to the super-rich by opposing tax increases for them. Never in the history of the world has this happened, where you have so many people who are relatively poor saying, “hey, don’t raise taxes on those wealthy people! That’s Communist!” when clearly it is the rich who are making the decisions to move their factories overseas, evade taxes completely in offshore tax shelters, and manipulate markets illegally, putting a heavier tax burden on the working class, decimating the jobs market, and ultimately bringing down the entire economy.
    Why do these people continue to so grossly misjudge the situation, and support the very people who are sucking them dry? For the same reason people play the lottery. The myth of the American Dream has been pummeled into their heads from birth. No matter how unlikely, these people still support the right of the obscenely wealthy to exist, because they imagine themselves there one day. Winning the lottery is a statistical unreality, yet one out of every three people in the US think that winning the lottery is the only way to become financially secure in their life.
    In any other culture, in any other time, if 10% of the population owned 71% of the wealth and the top 1% owned 38%, and the bottom 40% owned less than 1% of the nation’s wealth, there would be a revolution. Period.

  38. I am only a layperson, of an age to have a sense that our difficulties began with the era of Reagan.

    Reagan began the process of taking our country away from us and his really insidious trick was to make some people believe he was giving it back to them.

  39. The Right knows how to hammer on certain main points, disregarding veracity, and to never let up (like for 40 years). Great tactics, if you’re a sportsman.

  40. “The predatorclass will not relinquish the strangle hold on the mechanisms of finance and government peacefully or legally…”

    How do we know that? Those of us who yack here and pretend to some kind of (red pill, is it?) enlightenment, we don’t do (or haven’t yet done) anything to get organized. If we were to somehow democratically force the issue and manage to raise marginal tax rates back to 60% or something, would they release the hounds?

  41. I’m afraid of a constitutional convention. Couldn’t it be fairly easily co-opted so that it spawned some kind of balanced budget amendment devil’s-child?

  42. looks like a good read

    “the demise of traditional liberalism occurred during the Carter administration, despite Democratic control of Washington, when highly organized business interests were able to torpedo the Democratic agenda and begin the era of cutting taxes for the rich that apparently has not yet ended today.”

    -100% true. The mid to late 70’s marks the tipping point.

    I am reading Dean Baker’s “The United States since 1980” now which has a similar premise and has been great so far:

  43. The first U.S.census was taken in 1790. From every year then on, incomes in the U.S. were distributed more widely until 1960. In that year, the distribution stopped. In every year since then, the top quintile has grown at the expense of everybody else. These are the facts. Check them out for yourself. Then you can come up with your own theory to explain these facts.

    And James, you can find the most important of de Tocquevilla observations about democracy at

  44. “I sit in an office full of engineers, highly educated people, who are birthers, deathers, global warming, and even evolution deniers.”

    Dreary. But you have more in common with them than you do the victimised class.

  45. Don’t go.

    This is the ONLY purpose for a Constitutional Convention and there will be bouncers – Senators had MDs hoisted out of Health Care meetings…was that not enough for everyone?

    Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution:

    “Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States.””

  46. Let us not forget that Reagan did a tax overhaul, too. Remember that? Along with the gutting of the regulatory agencies, promoting pollution, the birth of the SUV, contraray to the wimpy vision of Mr. Carter. We annointed and celebrated the Reagan Royalty (hooray – the ruling class is BACK), celebrated Gordon Gekko (Greed is Good), we had Yuppies and then a few little skirmishes to feel good about: The British event in South America and the invasion of that little Caribbean island, Granada. We flexed our muscle and felt really, really good. Remember that Reagan busted the air controllers when they went on strike (whom we felt we could not live without). He showed us that nothing was sacred. He capped it off with Iran Contra, showing that if you’re sitting on top, you can even conduct your own little weapons biz on the side and have a secret war. He left us with a “deficits don’t matter” residual, after convincing us that all that money would just trickle right down.

    And we loved Dear Ronnie, (not I) and celebrated how GOOD it felt to be there for the new “Morning in America”. Quite a masterful job. He made the society love their own seeds of destruction, and hail him as the greatest modern President.

  47. So, what I want to know is when are we going to start breaking apart all the monopolies/oligopolies so that innovation can start again?

    We are ripped off by industries that lobby Congress hard, like pharma, healthcare, oil and gas.

    Time to move to Canada where the tax system has always been progressive (i.e. the wealthy are taxed at a higher rate than here) healthcare is universal, a college degree is an affordable thing by the middle class.

    People ought to look at how much higher middle class wages are in other countries like Switzerland. People actually earn a living wage and yet they still have healthcare, etc… Our aging problems are nothing like in Europe or Japan, but yet we seem to have much worse infrastructure problems. It is because we have shifted so much money up to the top or wasted many resources over the years in bubbles.

  48. They also buy into the American Individualist Myth. They won’t face the fact that without certain social/economic interventions of the federal government and without the trade union battles of the 20th C. that they would be living like the family in the famous Depression-era photo, in rags, in a shack. They believe they got where they are on their own.

    That and the fact that the Left and Progressives scapegoat white people. Rich white people are oppressors while the poor and lower-middle class are more or less subhuman, the lowers spoken about with pretty much the same open contempt that whites have been accused of speaking of and treating “people of color.” In that sense the working class whites have no where to go but to the Right, which patronizes them but doesn’t openly scorn them. Bad move for the Left if they’re trying to count votes.

  49. I disagree with your last paragraph without any evidence. I tend to think the percentages you cite are historically more or less the norm.

  50. Niaomi Klein talks about this in her book Shock Doctrine. She also mentions the 70’s, but takes it further. The Chicago School of Economics is responsible for spreading a failed economic policy across the world, according to Klein.

  51. You completely miss the point. Voters can toss out the opposing party as much as they want; the party they replace them with might toss them a bone, but they won’t get serious change. They’ve been fed so many lies and half-truths that they don’t even know what their self-interest would look like if implemented in policy.

    We have a nominally democratic system, but Democratic in name is meaningless if the system doesn’t actually serve the interest of the majority of voters.

  52. Simple: Television
    If people bother at all too keep track of what is going on it won’t be from any “conspiracy” websites (ie: anything that is not MSM), it will be from the greatest lobotomizer ever invented, television.
    A handful of paid shills and you can sway an entire nation or at least half to shout the other half down.

  53. The one thing that can be said for certain is that, if the overclass don’t allow peaceful change now, they will guarantee violent change tomorrow. I don’t want to see that and I certainly don’t want my children or grandchildren to end up having to live through it. And there’s no guarantee as to just what shape America will be in after such an event.

  54. The history of human civilizations is the repeated story of how wealth and power get concetrated and controlled by an elite few, whether they be kings and queens, tsars or tycoons. It is only in the last several hundred years that governing systems have emerged that can effectively check the natural human tendancy for a group to gradually be overtaken by those with the highest drive for control and power. But Democracy, our self described best choice for fairness and equality, is susceptible to the eroding corruption of influence pedaling, as Mr Kwak describes, and it is for this basic reason that I find the historic coziness between the Republican party and Big Business and Big Money to be a fundamental threat to the balance of powers that a democratic government is all about. That the Democratic Party has fallen into this trap in recent years is discomforting, but at their heart most Democrats are still champions of equality and the disempowered.

  55. Agree with your analysis. In “Supercapitalism”, Robert Reach shows how capitalism transformed itself in 1970s and indirectly explains the inequality which has risen in the States over the 30 years or so. I highly recommend it.

  56. So your thugs will control the agenda? Good luck. Do you imagine that the neoliberal forces will allow this without powerful and organized, very well organized, attempts to co-opt it? The meeting rules will differ from Health Care meetings controlled by Senators. You won’t be able to do anything about that. You need to answer my question with something stronger to the point than that bit of Constitutional text.

  57. The Powell Memo was a plan of attack that anyone who was
    politically aware since the ’70s realizes it’s been carried out to the

  58. What amazes me is how easily we keep falling for it. One reason there hasn’t been the level of anger one might expect, I think, is because, unlike the ’30’s, the safety net created during those years has kept people from feeling the full brunt of their situation. Now that benefits are running out and the safety net is getting frayed, the fear will set in and turn to anger at some point. But whether it will be aimed at the right targets is another matter – I doubt it.
    Already Mitch McConnell & Co. is laying the groundwork to make this a “class warfare” fight – which, of course, it is. But the Republicans have always managed to use that smear to their advantage, as if they are the champions of the working man and middle class. Puleeeze. When will the bottom 99% who haven’t been making great financial strides the past 30 years finally find their voices?

  59. Yeah, lets tax the rich and give it to the poor instead of creating more prosperity for everyone. Great idea. A rising tide raises all ships. Taxes are a lead weight that pulls everyone downward.

    Reduce taxes for everyone and let this country compete with the world again.

    I take issue with the articles statement that most of this country agrees taxes should be used as the great equalizer. Have you read a little Marx lately?

  60. Actually I don’t have to prove anything to you, do I REALLY?

    You’d be SHOCKED and AWED as to how many USA citizens are rolling their eyes at extreme-political speak like “neoliberal” forces – seriously now, what the heck is that? Different definition every day by 10 different wonks – it’s like “religion”, everybody interpreting it for their own benefit and rationalizations of the delusional (ie “perception is reality”)!

    Shall we bottom line all this yaddayadda?

    PEOPLE do not need corrupt politicians to survive as a sovereign country. If they can’t write laws FOR ONLY THEIR BENEFIT by scratching, clawing and KILLING their way into the institutions of civilization – yes, a government – then the “incentive” will be gone and they’ll remain “private” citizens with a lot less collective power.

    Think about it – where else in life can you gather up the worst element in society – psychos, sociopaths, narcissists – and SO MANY other “modern” personality disorders like detail-ism –

    and give such “individualists” free reign to use LAW MAKING to further their personal ambitions?!

    It’s ABSURD. The evidence is all around us that the MAXIMUM amount of damage to HUMAN BEINGS and PLANET EARTH is all they are capable of delivering.

    There is nothing you can SAY to a NORMAL minded people (YES THERE IS A “NORMAL” SAD TO SAY) that will persuade us to accept this “way of the world” as the only way it can be. Get over it, already. Their “power” is based on a DELUSION belief that must be swallowed by everyone else AND THE FACT THAT THEY GET TO WRITE “LAWS”.

    So what part don’t you understand about the proposed Amendment 28?

    There is no “status quo”. We are rolling around in financial anarchy for 2 years now. Which means that Law and Order needs clarification:

    “Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States.””

    So with BILLIONS going to half the citizens (a LOT of them not even USA citizens – go figure) to SPY on

    – ? everyone who doesn’t know what a neoliberalist is ? –

    shouldn’t we feel SECURE that a Constitutional Convention will be a peaceful event?

  61. I’ve recently begun “13 Bankers”-but I’m enjoying and agreeing what I’ve read so far. Kevin Phillips in his “Politics of the Rich and Poor” argued that the real acquisition of the recent ascension of “oligarichic” power can be traced to the Tax Reform Act of 1986. As I recall, he argued that Donald Regan (sp?), Ronald Reagan’s Treasury Sec./Chief of Staff, and former Pres. of Merrill Lynch-helped engineer that act-to benefit Wall Street over other potential investments. Of course, because our political leaders had done nothing previously to effectively offset the economic shocks attributable to loss of economic control because we lost control of oil pricing, the temporary “bubble” attributable to investment shift from the “domesticated” economy to Wall Street-created a great boon for the financial sector, and (I believe) because of the illusion of the return of economic stability and prosperity attributable to that temporary effect-public opinion followed, and bought in to the notion that the financial boys had all the answers. Now, the public is disillusioned with Wall Street, but no politician has offered any realistic (at least in the eyes of public opinion) remedy to the situation, with a viable longer term “hope.” I think Obama has completely missed the boat in offering any alternative solutions, and that’s why the public is so down on him. He’s also failed to confront Wall Street effectively or strongly, and people aren’t fooled. I don’t think the public is really enamoured with the prospect of the return of the Republican support of failed economic policies-that’s why they are so anti-incumbent. But no political organization is presently effectively addressing where we need to be going or what changes will really work. Unless and until someone does, we will continue to try to sail through the doldrums, without any favorable leadership winds to drive the vessel.

  62. Quit drinking the cool-aide. Saying you are going to let tax rates adjust for our nation’s wealthiest to where they were when our fiscal situation, and overall economic health were better, is not akin socialism. But then, maybe you knew that. Or maybe you can’t think for yourself. And obviously you could care less about signaling to the Bond market that we care about fiscal responsibility–so I guess peope like you should go sit in the corner and remain mum when discussions of fiscal responsibility crop up.

  63. Economists and their “political” goons LUST “nature”.

    Truthful and ethical scientists have a love affair with “nature”.


  64. I confronted Senator Schumer on Sunday in my hometown where he was campaigning over lack of substantive Wall Street reform. He claimed we got a bill passed. I told him it was “weak tea.” He said something to the affect of better than nothing/best we could do.

    I’m not really even sure why I spoke to him, frankly.

  65. Too many GOOD NORMAL and SANE people were deliberately rounded up and killed in the “revolutions” of the 20th century. We cannot give the CRIMINALLY INSANE one more chance to pull that schtick again – look at the “laws” they are producing! If that isn’t psychological violence, what is?

    We’re “third world” for only one reason – we stopped funding CIVILIZATION. “Tribes” with more metaphysical juju beliefs than cave dwellers 900,000 years ago are LECTURING us about how to be “poor” – that isn’t “peaceful” change, is it?

    I do not want violence, either, for one simple reason – the SCUM rises to the top after such events.

    Look up “Just War” on wiki – we have NOT run out of other methods, yet, but a Constitutional Convention to pass the 28th Amendment IS A NECESSITY for “We the People”. To DENY us the right to fully exercise what is LAWFUL is definitely an act of war by the “tribe” that dares to suppress the RULE OF LAW in their favor.

    Yes, they are psychos and sociopaths and narcissists which makes them so dangerous that they need to be institutionalized, but not in “Congress” :-)

    Let’s test the “fruit” of the Patriot Act, shall we?

  66. In the spirit of the 1970s – fiery, bold and too advanced ethically over the D.C. gang who staged 3 assassinations in a row to get “power”

    REMEMBER that is why “riot police” shot into students.

    Yes, the Patriot Act spiders web that ate privacy (without PRIVACY A PERSON CAN NOT BE SECURE FROM ORGANIZED CRIME) and 187,000 Iraq mercenaries is a whole lot WORSE than the 1970s,

    but so is the condition of the planet.

    The psychos are just too stupid (evil retards education) to know that they can go – poof – just like BinLaden did in the earthquake in Pakistan – why were photos of how bad that earthquake was never utilized by the “media” unlike the hay made out of Haiti?

    Fix the freekin’ natural gas lines – lalaland is broke from all the Props they passed taking millions out of infrastructure and giving it to “politicians” who yaddayadda about the most INANE crap – GOSSIP is not problem solving leadership.

  67. JonboinAR,
    The figures I used come from the UN, who uses the Gini Index for measuring growing inequality. It can be found at the link below. On this scale 0 represents perfect equality with everyone having the exact same income and 1 represents perfect inequality with one person having all income (Scores are then commonly multiplied by 100 to make them easier to understand). As you can see, income inequality has been on the rise since the sixties.

    Also, this from the President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco: “…from 1973 to 2005… real hourly wages of those in the 90th percentile—where most people have college or advanced degrees—rose by 30 percent or more… among this top 10 percent, the growth was heavily concentrated at the very tip of the top, that is, the top 1 percent. This includes the people who earn the very highest salaries in the U.S. economy, like sports and entertainment stars, investment bankers and venture capitalists, corporate attorneys, and CEOs. In contrast, at the 50th percentile and below—where many people have at most a high school diploma—real wages rose by only 5 to 10 percent.” – Janet L. Yellen, President and CEO, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, November 6, 2006

    Also, from the US Commerce Dept and IRS:
    — “Data from the United States Department of Commerce and Internal Revenue Service indicate that income inequality has been increasing since the 1970s,[10][11][12][13][14] whereas it had been declining during the mid 20th century.[15][16] As of 2006, the United States had one of the highest levels of income inequality, as measured through the Gini index, among high income countries, comparable to that of some middle income countries such as Russia or Turkey,[17] being one of only few developed countries where inequality has increased since 1980.[18]
    “ As I’ve often said… this [increasing income inequality] is not the type of thing which a democratic society—a capitalist democratic society—can really accept without addressing. – Alan Greenspan, June 2005 ”

    According to, the above Alan Greenspan quote was in testimony before Congress in 1995.

    So yeah, I should cite figures, but it’s easy information to find anywhere.

  68. “A rising tide raises all ships.”

    Reaganism. Analogy proven wrong by time and experience. Taxing the rich and spreading out the wealth, done with even a modicum of intelligence, does create prosperity.

  69. The biggie from the 70s: Buckley vs. Valeo. That woefully wrongheaded Supreme Court decision equated donating money to a campaign with free speech. (It really should have been equated with voting – everyone should be equal) That opened the financial floodgates and drenched the electoral process in cash. It was the end of democracy and the beginning of legal plutocracy.

    Today, whichever candidate in a congressional primary spends the most money wins, 9 times out of 10. Most of that money comes in $1000 chunks from millionaires. Ergo, if you are a candidate with opinions that offend millionaires you are basically out of luck. See the PIRG study called “The Wealth Primary” for details.

    Buckley vs. Valeo was the end. To quote “deep throat”, “Follow the money.”

  70. There are several books that discuss the desire of large corporate interests to control the US and many are well documented.

    Both Jules Archer and the BBC independently reported on the American Liberty League’s attempt to stage a coup of FDR by trying to get General Smedley Butler and disenchanted Bonus Army veterans (WWI vets stiffed on their bonus checks) to seize the White House.

    Senate investigations (“McCormick-Dickstein committee”) verified this attempt but the robber barons were allowed to go unscathed. The ALL was a front group, not unlike Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, for several powerful industrialists who sought to turn back New Deal law and assert their brand of “free-market” economics.

    Kim Phillips-Fein’s “Invisible Hands” documents the persistent struggle and eventual victory against the New Deal, liberalism, consumer activism and workers by powerful corporate interests from the early 20th century to the present.

    It shines light upon the rolling out of money to think tanks, universities, PACs, politicians and media outlets in a “tour-de-force” of socially conservative propaganda, promises of entrepreneurial wealth for believers and political graft and illegalities all aimed at convincing folks that big corporations and their brand of capitalism were good for everyone… The ironies laid out beautifully in the book are poignant.

    One of the ironies: The demon-ization of “collectivism” by Ayn Rand, Mises, Hayek, etc. as immoral, anti-capitalist, dangerous, steps toward totalitarianism, etc… yet collectivism is exactly what these wealthy CEOs and Austrian economics acolytes embraced to further their rent-seeking!!! They talked about how collectivism leads to the ultimate evil of socialist totalitarianism… but many of these major businesses were the largest recipients of corporate welfare (corporate socialism) and now behave as oligarchs!!! – It is like Wall Street executives praising capitalism after being bailed out and having their debt socialized. The mere utterance of capitalism by these folks rings hollow and disingenuous. It is rank hypocrisy on a grand scale.

    Again – it is all rather simple.

    1. The debates over Keynesian vs. Monatarist vs. Austrian economic theory are rendered moot as long as politics rule the day and the interests of the ruling class prevail.

    Simon, James and others are absolutely correct – more than anything, this is a political problem. Laws have little meaning when they are not enforced or are changed to benefit the powerful.

    2. The first rule of criminal law is to “FOLLOW THE MONEY”. It served Woodward and Bernstein pretty well.

    But back then, the rule of law meant something – today, not so much. Witness the SEC’s refusal to go after Prince and Rubin and Blankfein and Paulson, etc.

    BTW – Did you see Glen Beck take back America? It was awesome. I’m not sure who had it before he got hold of it but it is his now – HE TOOK IT BACK!!! Praise geez to bees us. And it was soooo crowded – I lost count at 18 trillion billion people. Fox News verified the count. I believe Fox News because they wave the flag better than anyone else and that is important to our economy.

  71. You actually just moved stuff around. You have created nothing more. Those are just the words you used. Did you mean something else.

    I mean, when I take your car and give it to my neighbor I actually did not create anything. I just moved it around. Please explain how giving the car created prosperity? Its movement, not creation.

  72. Yes, if you take one car from a man with one car, then you’ve just moved it around. But if we want to use a car analogy, then we have to think of being “rich” as having, say, 4 cars while living by yourself. If you’ve got 4 cars to your one person, and your neighbor has no car, and you live in an unwalkable area with poor/no public transit then you’ve just added one more person to the workforce that has reliable transportation. You have increased productivity. Not to mention, they can also get to the store to purchase food, clothing, and other necessities.

    You still have more cars than you need, and your neighbor is now able to be a far more productive part of society.

    You attempted to beg the question, but you phrased your argument incorrectly, and you just didn’t look hard enough at it to see it had many answers you hadn’t considered. Were I wealthy (making 250k+, according to government standards) I would not have an issue with an additional 1-2% out for taxes to help stabilize the society I live in.

    The wealthy try to paint themselves as so unfortunate if they have to pay a couple percent extra in. They try to act like they get nothing out of it. They do. When society is more stable, when more people have what they need, and when more people are employed then you have less crime. You have less social instability. You live in a more civilized society.

    Quit letting the ultra-wealthy and ultra-greedy who are COMPLETELY OUT OF TOUCH with reality tell you how the world works. They are wrong, stupid, and in need of a few lessons in humility and humanity.

  73. So, to understand your logic, it is OK to steal as long as you steal from someone who had plenty. From those who can, to those by their need. Which successful system are you citing please?

    It is of no use to add another person to the workforce if there are no jobs.

    You are propounding that the problem in this country is that no one can get to where the jobs are because of unreliable transportation? Thats the problem? and then also the problem is that people cannot get to the store to shop?

    You have stolen my analogy, misdirected it and failed to address my questions. Facts please. Not failed philosophy.

    Do you know anything of human nature? Give someone anything and they will work harder? or work less?

    Give a fish? or teach to fish on their own? Its very basic.

  74. Wow. You wanna talk about twisting arguments? You twist it in to stealing instead of giving. You twist the car story from being an analogy in your hands to being literal in mine. You talk of your analogy as facts and mine as philosophy, then insult the idea of philosophy, then wax philosophical and insult me on the basis that I understand nothing of your philosophy of human nature.

    I will not justify such disingenuous twisting and turning with further argument. You want to be right, fine. Keep telling yourself you’re right. I won’t argue with you. Not because I agree that you’re right, but because you are dishonest in simply your manner of argument.

  75. Logic,

    “Totalitarianism”‘s DNA does NOT change by calling it “socialist totalitarianism” or “quantum totalitarianism”. Totalitarianism, as a new word, was introduced as an example of “DON’T DO THIS”. Giving it an AAA credit rating and channeling all currency to a suck machine

    (More misery for others = more money for ME ME ME)

    was akin to electrons getting into the lightning funnel for one big KAZAM!!! No man made system is capable of surviving that much “current” because it is FAR from perfect.

    It’s just getting downright STUPID again, people were on TV at 6 AM in the morning blaming the “boomer generation” for the “deficit” – that’s the NEW argument – a big group of people managing to feed, cloth and shelter themselves is WHY

    the USA is “broke”. Next up, pigs can fly.

  76. “I’ll play along and ask how exactly you come to equate the Democratic party (its agenda ranging from right-of-center to hard right) with “the left”?”

    I chose my terminology poorly. I intended “left” and “right” to refer to the relative ends of the electoral-political spectrum. I fully agree that there is no capital-L Left in American politics today.

    “But you sound like one of the yahoos who think the neoliberal corporatist Obama’s a “socialist”.”

    I really don’t know what you read in my comment that led you to this conclusion!

    “I don’t care about the conventional spectrum myself. My spectrum runs “democratic” (that’s a small “d”) to “elitist”. Both parties are far to the elitist side, of course, as are both conservatives and liberals.”

    Same here. In fact, I have rarely voted for a Democrat or Republican for any elected office. Obama was one of the few exceptions–and one I profoundly regret now.

    Finally, there remains the thrust of the questions in my comment–if we can get past the political descriptors: why is that bald-faced lies seem to move public opinion more effectively than half-truths and distortions, the falsity of which is not immediatley apparent unless you have a very detailed knowledge of the facts? That’s a question about human cognitive psychology, and not about politics. The other aspect of it is why one end of the contemporary American political spectrum seems more given to blatant fabrications and the other to misleading statements. You may disagree that there is any difference, but my perception is that there is, and I’m curious if anyone has any ideas why that might be.

  77. The are many complex issues that are converging to explain the current circus, – I mean kabuki theater – I mean crisis.

    1) Complicit parrots in the socalled MSM, and particularly the propagandists and disinformations warriors bruting the gospel according to Fox, pimp the FALSE information (among an expanding litany of naked lies) that the gop cares about working people, that the DOW = the economy, that unions are communists or socialists, the labor bargaining power restricts the freedom of speech, that the rich pay more taxes, that corporations are people, that wars of choice against evildoers overthere protects Amerikans from fighting evildoers overhere, that there will be no double dip because Grandpa Warren Buffet said so, that the banks are solvent as proven by the ridiculously manipulated stress tests , that the fascists in the bushgov were not complicit in the horrors of the Pearlharbor like event known as 9/11, and on and on, and I could go on for pages. The point is all this gibberish is a cacophony of intentional patent lies. It’s an element of the predator disinformation, propaganda, perception management, information domination, information warfare targeting the American population.

    The harsh reality is that the people have absolutely NO, as in ZERO representation in mechanics of the government. Further and more alarming – the predatorclass, the superrich, and predatorclass oligarchs OWN and CONTROL the government and so dictate the mechanics of the governments operations entirely in their exclusive favor.

    The people must come to the brutal realization that we are on our own. There are no socalled legal remedies to right these horrible wrongs because the predatorclass will not allow, or will simply cloak or ignore those remedies, and continue the unrestrained robbing and pillaging of the poor and middleclass, to feed the superrich, the predatorclass and predatorclass oligarchs.

    There are no political solutions. The predatorclass owns the government, all politicians, and the socalled political system.

    There are no legal. The predatorclass owns and controls the socalled judicial systems, one that cloaks or excuses predatorclass abuses and crimes, the other that ruthlessly punishes the people for minor offenses.

    The government is the financial system. Subtract government largess to the financial system, and the entire PONZI scheme would crash and burn in a matter of minutes.

    The government pimps the fairytales of the predatorclass through the complicit parrots in the socalled MSM, that majikally – all is well in the land of Oz.

    Many of the unwashed masses desire peace on earth and goodwill towards men. The glaring problem is, our overlords, the predatorclass are bent, insatiable, delirious, pathological in the opposite aims of neverending (and highly profitable I might add) war on earth, and malevolence toward all people (women, men, children) who are not predatorclass.

    The only hope the people have for peace, equality, justice, freedom, and true democracy – is to bring down, by every and any means necessary the existing structures and satraps and oligarchs and olympians, – and set about the creation of a new “more perfect union”.

    (“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.”)

  78. Actually, there are only two possibilities: Constitutional amendment to (1) impose strict term limits of two per elected official; (2) publicly finance all elections and ban all political ads other than those paid for by public funds; (3) make it impossible for any former government employee or elected official to lobby after leaving their job or office. Of course the second solution is less appealing because I don’t believe in violent solutions in a civil society. Arianna Huffington has argued, very effectively, that this country bears a striking resemblance to third world countries. I would agree, and perhaps argue that it is getting very close to resembling the old USSR. Oh, yes, we have freedoms, but the media suppresses dissenting viewpoints amazingly well (the mainstream media, there’s still lots on the web, but that is not well organized and frequently even more polarized than what we see on TV and hear on the radio).

    There are, as you suggest, lots of possibilities, but nothing effective will be enacted until we can cleanse politics of the influence of the vastly wealthy oligarchies which dominate America, both it’s politics and its resources.

  79. The “political debates” between Dems and Reps, Conservatives and Liberals are just BS. This is intended as what it is: distractive chatter, much ado about nothing, meaningless banter between members of the Good Ol’ Boys Club. The media buys into the bogus debate completely. Why? Because the media gets most of its revenue from the oligarchs who want the distraction to go on ad infinitum. Better that we should have lots of chatter and bogus action, so far as the plutocrats are concerned.

    I want a party called the Rationalists which offers logical solutions and is funded by small $5 or $10 contributions from the millions who are fed up. (or we could call it the Constitutional Convention party, if I get my wish)

  80. As for the contrast between parties: The Wall Street fiancial community gave the Dems $64 million in 2008, and the Reps $54 million (oddly that is the same as the percentage party split in Congress — go figure). All of the oligarchs play both sides of the aisle and always have.

  81. James:
    The trend towards centralization of wealth, power and knowledge into the hands of a few is primarily due to natural causes related to the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. The connivings of the wealthy and Wall Street may have accelerated the decay process, but I doubt that they are directly responsible for it.

    Since my thesis that wealth concentration is primarily a structural issue takes verbage and a great deal of supporting evidence, I’ve posted it to my blog as “Class warfare is alive, well and serving the rich”. The title is there to draw attention, the text avoids the villains and heros issues.

    I suggest that the decay of the structural elements which produced the middle class actually started to decay as early as the 1950s, but there is a time delay from decay to output results measured as GDP and wealth distribution. The structural decline accelerated in the late 1970s, however these growing structural weaknesses were masked by public and private borrowings from the wealthy.

    The primary reason we didn’t maintain a healthy structure: collective ignorance of how the economic system actually works. Without that understanding we repeatedly took the course of least resistance and simply kicked the can down the road. My essay points to what we have to do to reinstall an adequate structure; actions based on evolutionary principles that have successfully prevented the overcentralization of living systems.

    Eric Beinhocker’s “The Origin of Wealth” addresses the evolutionary/economic issue of wealth distribution quite effectively. I wholeheartedly recommend that book.

  82. I would give you Touche on the fact that I was making an unbacked assertion except – so were you. One might say we’re both speaking from our backsides, but here’s more of my point of view: The rich tend to collect and hoard wealth. I would if I were rich, I’m sure. It’s human nature. You can never be rich enough. The poor, on the other hand, tend to spend what they have. It circulates better when everyone has closer to the same amount than they do in the US today. But, the government has to help enforce that – government, unions, stuff like that, like in the golden era of the middle class when there were much higher marginal tax rates.

    Without those admittedly artificial modifying elements, in the so-called free-marketplace a few win the Monopoly Game. They end up owning about everything. The rest of us are destined to become, basically, their boot-licking slaves.

    I’ll take the mixed economy, please, a little capitalism, a little socialism, thank you. Good times for everyone, not just a few.

  83. I’m sorry, Annie. I can’t figure out what your CA proposal actually means. What, in the real world, will be different, and how? I don’t mean to criticize it, but I don’t understand it.

  84. To Tigger NLtro, mostly his next post below this: Calling raising the rates on those with a lot of income “stealing” implies they have a moral claim to that money that the government, and it’s more modest-income beneficiaries lack. You haven’t established that.
    aside:(I think that’s begging the question. I’m not sure. I’m not sure what “begging the question” is.)

    You’re successful people will continue to work hard with slightly less income, especially at the really high margins where their incomes get a tad obscene. The less well off will continue to go to work with a little more spending $$ and a few of the nice things in life, like health-care. It will be more like it was not so long ago when we had high marginal tax rates and a thriving middle class…
    Unless you’re against that.

  85. Thank you for the good data. That’s very kind. What I was arguing, though, or meant to, was that my sense is that income inequality much more extreme than what we currently have is most likely very common historically, in the world, not the US, and probably has been known to continue for pretty long periods, with no revolution taking place.

    In other words, if we allow the inequality to continue to increase, most of us could be hurting for a very long time. The American Dream could be pretty well over.

  86. Thanks for the clarification. Although I’d like to dispense with left-right altogether if possible, at the same time if people are going to use it at all I get sick of seeing the term “left” distorted by both system and tea-partier propaganda. Especially where the system does it, that’s part of their whole strategy. Moving the Overton window. So it seemed to me you were lapsing into compliance with system lies there.

    So what kind of lie is that system lie (that there’s such a thing as “the left” at all, and that Obama is part of it)? Even though it’s substantively a real lie, I guess we’d have to classify it as a distortion, although it’s the large-scale distortion we call a Big Lie.

  87. “Let’s not forget that the bankers are the next-door neighbors of the politicians,” it added. “Most people can see the picture: the bankers grease the politicians’ palms, the politicians bail out the bankers with public funds, the bankers pay themselves fat bonuses and loan the money back to the public with interest. It’s essentially a crime spree that benefits a social elite at the expense of many millions of victims.”

  88. What we are seeing, is a World where the majority of the economists propogate the LIE of infinite growth on a finite world. Impossible.

    This is akin to the priests of the Dark Ages claiming that the World is flat and the Sun revolves around the Earth. False.

    Another gross distortion in our World is the fact that the externality costs are not factored in our consumer prices. This means that the profits are privatised and the losses (environmental degradation) are for the general public (which also includes the families of our rulers and THAT proves that they are delusional in the style of 20th century dictators.)

  89. This puts to rest the notion that there has been a political move by ordinary citizens to the right, based on policy. The move to the right has clearly been the result of simple reduced influence, by the lower and middle income groups, to the political system.

  90. We are headed over a cliff and that is the only way things will change. The rich, who as the post notes runs things today, will never agree to transfer wealth to 1970’s like levels.

    It will only happen when it must happen. And that is when we have gone over the cliff.

    Hang on.

  91. John:

    Very interesting comment. I generally agree that “[b]etter engines and power systems increase material productivity in a very direct, clearly measurable way: more goods and services cheaply.”

    I think this article does provide an example of a computer network based “better power and propulsion system” in that it allows for instantaneous tranfer of specs to on site manufacturing facilities, rather than transportation of manufactured goods.

    Yes, we are in the beginning period of this technology, but information-based localized manufacturing will evolve rapidly and incorporate the use of more and more raw materials as time goes on. I do think this has huge implications for the relative importance of power and propulsion (certainly propulsion) and may to some extent prove a replacement, disruptive technology.

  92. bull pucky – 2nd law of thermodynamics only applies to how a human being eliminates gas to maintain internal equilibrium…

    The Patriot Act stripped all USA citizens of PRIVACY.

    Without PRIVACY, an individual has NO PROTECTION against


    I’m all FOR a “war” of “classes” – but let’s get the classes defined correctly – it’s not “rich” versus “poor”.

  93. silly funny beats sucking out the blood from each other – seriously, vampires and misogynistic rap – can’t argue that generations all have their own “trends” – most as manufactured as poverty in a fiat system of $$$.

  94. Did you know that the law permits a bank to effectively ‘steal’ up to $10 of a deposit due to the bank’s error. Unless the depositor notifies the bank of the ‘mistake,’ the bank is under no obligation to notify the depositor and may simply steal up to $10. If, however, the depositor makes an error totaling the deposit to the bank’s detriment, the depositor receives a penalty notice informing the customer that the deposit amount as originally stated was modified, and that a penalty fee ($6 or more) was debited from the account. That would apply to even a $0.01 discrepancy. Make sure you total your deposits carefully. The politicians have passed laws favoring the bank’s right to steal. It’s about efficiency, of course.

  95. Excellent analysis and write-up! I love your term: predatorclass. I’ve been looking for a term for them since I hate to call them the “elites.” I hope you don’t mind if I use the term from now on!!!!

  96. Annie, you say really interesting sounding stuff, but you’re too cryptic. I don’t quite understand your meaning a lot. Maybe it’s just me. If you read the guy’s site-posts, I found it pretty interesting. It agreed with my intuition/experience. He identified 3 economic classes and said they are all have competing interests. It rang true.

    But the main thing I agreed with was that a vibrant middle class is something of an artificial construction. It’s not going to last long naturally, any more than a house is. The left-to-its-own-devices free (so called) market is very much a middle-class destroyer. That seems true to me.

    Whether to take the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics thing literally or figuratively I think is a matter of indifference.

  97. I believe I focused on the use of modern technology against the “middle class”

    (which by now has lost all meaning even in this thread and elsewhere as a social group in civilization if such a CLASS of people are being reduced to an “artificial construction”)

    What is THAT, “cloud” technology? Cherry pick words used to precisely and accurately describe a situation from its original context where the word was used properly

    then slap nonsense together like “middle class” and “artificial construct” and present it as an original economic analysis?

    The ENTIRE world is pushing back against the


    that is a “global economy”.

    After hearing about that Chinese factory that calculated (would have LOVED to have checked his math before he launched it)

    maximum profit to be dependent on one human being working for 35 hours straight (and then throw in more bodies as other bodies increasingly commit suicide),

    I think “artificial construct” describes that kind of “business model” and NOT the Chinese worker.

    How dare the conversation be spun so far out past Alpha and Omega

    from the FACT that it is ONLY the “middle class” that is COMPETENT enough to build and maintain CIVILIZATIONS in the first place!

    Half of Wall Streeters can’t find the other side of the street without a GPS they’re so “specialized”. Once you’re that “specialized”, you cannot make MACRO decisions – play god with the “flow” of currency to keep LIFE sustained GLOBALLY.

    I want PRIVACY returned to an individual’s financial records because that is the only defense an individual has against ORGANIZED CRIME and the Patriot Act stripped me of that defense. And, yes, I have the paperwork that proves it all. It’s a very serious situation that no amount of distractions like being called “cryptic” BY YOU is going to be able to keep THE REAL DEAL from being FRONT AND CENTER as an “economic” issue.

    My life and my values and my work never were and never will be an “artificial construct”.

    Grow up.

  98. No, I don’t understand what you’re saying sometimes, is what I was saying. I criticized something you said above. You told me sweetly to shove it. I went back and read again what you said. I realized I was wrong. I hadn’t understood it. Trouble was, I still didn’t.

    But I don’t make myself clear. I don’t think I’m educated enough. You say these terms in common use have precise definitions somewhere. I guess I must not know what they are. When I said “artificial construct” I think maybe you meant I was criticizing something in your philosophy. No, I meant that I was agreeing with that Edwin Lee fellow, that the middle class can’t survive without particular tending to, economically. If you let things happen “naturally”, ie, without government interference, pretty soon there will be only a few very rich, and many very poor. That’s the way it seems to me, anyhow.

    He puts it a lot better than I do.

  99. jonboinAR, “No, I meant that I was agreeing with that Edwin Lee fellow, that the middle class can’t survive without particular tending to, economically. If you let things happen “naturally”, ie, without government interference, pretty soon there will be only a few very rich, and many very poor.”

    Okay, one more time, with the passage of the Patriot Act allowed god-knows-who to access the PRIVATE information of every single USA citizen


    Try to keep up – HALF of the people in the USA are involved in some way with PRIVATE data that they have NO BUSINESS having access to in the first place.

    So, nothing personal to Mr. Lee, but he seems to not realize where we are on – we HAD a government that watched out for the “middle class”. Now we have a government that is NOT watching out for the “middle class” – and that is putting it mildly.

    The “predator class” is real – they are predatory and the “law” protects them – that’s the “rich” side, and the “poor” side, well nothing has changed. You can STILL get everyone – TODAY in Arizona – grabbing their 2nd amendment solution to “win” the same amount of cash as was waved by the “rich” man in the movie “3:10 to Yuma”. You won the cash if it was your gun that pumped the killer bullet into the GOOD guy. Just the facts, Ma’am – not being a drama queen.

    So who do you think is working in jobs created by the Patriot Act? The good guys? Heck, even the old world charm mafia dudes are saying, and I quote, “…it’s looking more and more that the nicest people are getting hurt the worst – ECONOMICALLY…” and they’re not saying that to each other to figure out which stock to short tomorrow – even the MOB is wondering what is the freekin” point!? They can SEE that the very people the “mob” RESPECTED AS GOOD PEOPLE and never bothered are getting whacked BY A NEW BREED OF POLITICAL PREDATOR CLASS – NOTHING worse for a country than getting psychos, sociopaths and narcissists organized into a political class in the hall of a CIVILIZED government.

    The MIDDLE CLASS is the highest achievement of a true civilization – and guess what – they BUILT the civilization because they were COMPETENT.

    So now were are we going – torture part 10 – what are psychos more competent than the middle class at doing to others that makes them able to be “superior” in the “jungle”?

    We’re having a Constitutional Convention and that’s that – especially considering who Gen X is shoveling in – yikes.

    So grab your popcorn and watch the REAL MORAL DRAMA begin…you can’t write laws for someone else that you yourself are too “elite” to follow – when was the last time a sheikh got a public whipping for stealing?

  100. Agreed. It’s so nice to have a polite discussion without a bunch of people chiming in with kneejerk reactions. I’ve never posted on this site before, but the level of discourse is really refreshing. There are some really insightful comments, and well-reasoned arguments. I wish there was more of this kind of discussion, the internet would be a better place. Thanks Jon, have a good day my friend.

  101. I would like to commend jonboinAR for being so admirably civil and composed after being attacked and told to “grow up.” The internet needs more people like you. It can be so easy for people hiding behind an internet persona to throw common courtesy out the window, and it takes a big person to not engage in name-calling and shouting matches, and to remember that we are all just people trying to get a clearer sense of these important issues.

  102. Thanks. I just remembered that it was me who began criticizing her; also that I may want to converse with her and others in the future. I admire her passion. I can never seem to get ahead in studying things in the blogophere. I read and read and read and still feel I don’t know what the heck is really going on.

  103. Reading the comments in full: what a bunch of lunatics. It reads like the bizarro-world version of Limbaugh-Beck-Palin. About one degree west of Area 51. Astonishing.

  104. “The key difference between successful and standard psychopaths seemed to be in conscientiousness. Providing some rare, concrete support for the ‘successful psychopath’ concept, the individuals described by the survey respondents were the same as prototypical psychopaths in all regards except they lacked the irresponsibility, impulsivity and negligence and instead scored highly on competence, order, achievement striving and self-discipline.”

    Easy to spot in 10 seconds or less if people start to pay attention – it’s a sense that there is a lack of dimension, they “feel” virtual. There is nothing ORIGINAL and CREATIVE that directs their selfishness – “competence, order, achievement striving and self-discipline.” Example – they dismantled whole industries and shipped them to slave labor camps in over-populated countries with limited experience in post-WWII industrialization. Who wakes up in the morning to plot such god-playing horrors?

    This whole situation – the “global” crisis – is SCIENTIFIC proof that everything they do depends on inflicting MAXIMUM damage to Human Beings and their environment through “power” – which is where the tragic flaw is in everyone’s belief system – a desire for “power” over others.

    It’s the lust and love issue, again. Bottom line is psychos, sociopaths, and narcissists are genetically and biologically incapable of “love”. They know it. One told me that he knows a part of his brain has not been activated and is dark – no activity. And why the rise in “autism”?

    But that’s their upper hand, currently. NORMAL people don’t realize it because NORMAL is so differently wired from psycho.

    For those academicians brave enough to get at TRUTH – the scales tipped – psychos got a huge upper hand during and after WWII. All this delusion “ism”-ing “government” of “ideas” is proof of a spreading psychosis overtaking every “institution” that evolved over time to protect and nurture the genius and creativity and cooperation of NORMAL LOVING MINDS.

    It’s a GENETIC inability for experiencing LOVE (truth, beauty and goodness)

    peace and love :-)

    ps – imagine all the “Cory’s” populating the SECRET (also a PSYCHO trait, no? the SECRECY) jobs created by the Patriot Act…is a psycho qualified to judge a normal? No – that’s why they have settled on the PC PRETENSE that any STRONG display of NORMAL REACTIONS to their psychotic ACTS must be promptly attacked and eliminated – they KNOW I’m NORMAL and they are not – hence the “hate”). The Bolshevicks rounded up the NORMAL leadership – 20,000 – and shot them ONE AT A TIME. You got an explanation for that? I don’t. All I know is that if they COULD get away with it again, they would. But we ALL have the 2nd amendment solution in hand – politics of mutual destruction well understood since the “cold war”.

    Who CARES who’s idea it originally was – The 28th Amendment hits at the CORE of JUSTICE and we have to peacefully pull all the levers of our histroy – especially the ones psychos have IGNORED.

  105. More proof that that new businesses employing millions

    even the necessary stuff like non-degradable plastic/polymers to sop up all the chemicals left behind from making gasoline

    and industrial recycling and re-tooling

    don’t stand a chance at happening – meat the 2010s same as the 1970s – except 40 years later, it’s just dementia if they’re still in the 1970s.

    Uh, WHY are the kids so stupid?

    Millions spent on the salaries of those “educators” who made sure no one can figure out “toxic assets”

  106. —-ps – imagine all the “Cory’s” populating the SECRET (also a PSYCHO trait, no? the SECRECY) jobs created by the Patriot Act…is a psycho qualified to judge a normal? No – that’s why they have settled on the PC PRETENSE that any STRONG display of NORMAL REACTIONS to their psychotic ACTS must be promptly attacked and eliminated – they KNOW I’m NORMAL and they are not – hence the “hate”).—- Annie

    Wait wut? Just because I don’t type in all caps doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings. I don’t hate you at all, I’m not sure where this is coming from…

  107. it’d be nice if people would finally just stop voting for Democrats and Republicans and started voting for anyone else. literally anyone else.

  108. I love you both, too – LOL

    Let’s fugetaboutit

    These are very serious discussions and PC has no part to play whatsoever.

    Was there ever a widespread, serious, and MORAL conversation about invading Iraq?

    I understand completely how hard it may be to face up to it, but it has to be done. For a NORMAL person,

    think the worst,

    and then BELIEVE that they are prepared to do even worse than you can imagine if we try to make them admit they are not ever going to be as “rich” as they have already generated “paper” saying that they are.

    It’s a con, or as they claim, “perception is reality”.

    C’mon, guys, you all know what I am talking about – push the button that breaks through all the “competence, order, achievement striving and self-discipline” – CHEAT them out of just a dime and the head spins 360 and hurls _____out the mouth…no one SANE has that reaction to not being able to suck out the LAST SAVED dime from at least 50 million more “overpaid workers”. They are seriously capable of absolutely anything to make their paper “real” by stealing that amount they wrote on the paper from everyone else – and they figured out it will take 5 YEARS. Even PBS has capitulated to the con – check out the brainwashing interview/conversation Sept 16 on NewsHour – yup, it hurt to see PBS is giving voice to the financial “authorities”…but should not have been surprised considering who “funds” News Hour.

    And the scale of this Kabuki Theater, Act Three (Savings and Loan – Act One, Enron et al – Act Two)

    is brought to you by the Patriot Act – “they” could have NEVER created the rube goldberg aspect of the con without unfettered, unregulated, and unjust access to the financial “lives” of everybody in the USA.

    It’s sick.

  109. It’s not particularly controversial, either, even for a liberal like me. He calls for accuracy and exacting professionalism. Unfortunately, it all devolved into K-street and corporate welfare rather than simply defending business. I would love to see the big firms promoting competition instead of rent-seeking…

  110. Soros spent most of his fortune keeping schools, universities, parks, orchestras, and museums open in Eastern Europe during the collapse of communism. I think we need not question his motives.

    The sad thing is that he felt he had to pour money into politics (what he had left!) in order to have a positive influence on the future of the US: does this indicate that our politics are as broken as the Eastern Bloc was at the end of Communism? Probably.

    Koch’s motives, on the other hand, seem entirely and purely evil.

  111. It’s absurdly hard to measure who had what percentage of wealth in feudal and early economic systems — largely because the people on the top were *obligated* to provide a lot of services to the people lower down.

    That said, in European feudalism, the peasants produced pretty much all the food, which was the source of all the wealth. They kept, generally, 2/3 of it (I’ve read). This left 1/3 for the upper class. So we’re actually doing worse than that.

    Perhaps we’re doing better than ancient Egypt… or perhaps we aren’t. Guaranteed food and housing for all citizens? Guaranteed jobs? Hmm.

  112. In the 1950s, the top tax rate for the richest Americans was *92%*. The US was the world leader in every industry. Except space travel… where Communist Russia was ahead!

  113. Tigger, you fail to see the fundamental fact that the super-rich generally, pretty much, stole what they have now.

    There is no honest way to *earn* a billion dollars — but if you are a corporate CEO and can write your own salary (stockholders be damned) you can rake off a billion dollars.

  114. Actually, no, there’s evidence that income inequality in the US is worse than in medieval Europe; it’s also worse than in many Third World countries.

    Given that it’s *still getting worse*, we probably are on the verge of either revolution or social collapse.

    History shows us that that isn’t likely to make things *better* — some countries just keep having revolutions every couple of years, with no net improvement.

    The conclusion is that wealth inequality beyond a certain very high trigger level leads to social unrest. Nothing more.

  115. It’s worse than that though. Mere millionaires support more progressive policies by something like 2/3 to 1/3.

    But the big donations come from *billionaires* who can afford to set up multiple separate schemes to funnel far more than the $1000 limit to their desired candidate (including by running their own ads, using their wholly owned TV network to run biased “news”, etc.)

  116. You’re right, but I’ll describe what you said in simpler terms:

    A natural, unregulated capitalist system inevitably trends towards one person owning everything.

    That person (or small group of people) then eliminate the free market in favor of feudalism or slavery.

    This is why it’s critical to drain off the accumulation of wealth. Even Andrew Carnegie recognized this, and favored confiscatory inheritance taxes.

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